AFC East Preview
Looking at offseason changes
Now that camps are opening and we have finished our rookie rankings, we thought it was a good time to start rolling out our team reports, which are being released by division. Old Rotobahn readers know the drill, but for you newbies, the goal here is to get you back up to fantasy speed. If you’ve been eating, breathing and sleeping baseball, we’re here for you. Let’s play a little catch-up. The key things on the docket are coaching changes, rookies and key free agent moves.
Do I even need to mention Aaron Hernandez at this point? Right now, all of the offensive questions flow from the losses. Wes Welker, Hernandez and to an extent, Rob Gronkowski are gone. Gronk will hopefully return soon--perhaps even Week 1, but his health will be a big concern all year long. In fact, as folks continue to pontificate about how Hernandez will be replaced as a movable “joker” tight end, I wonder if Gronk isn’t that guy. Think about it. Would you rather have your best offensive weapon blocking 250 to 300 pound guys or getting cracks at linebackers and DBs? Meanwhile, New England has plenty of guys who can block in-line when they want to go with double tight ends. It’s just a thought, but maybe we see Gronk moved around more often than in the past. It’s something to watch.
The departed are not limited to Hernandez and Welker. The Pats have let go or lost a lost of talented players.
- Aaron Hernandez
- Wes Welker
- Danny Woodhead
- Brandon Lloyd
That’s tough no matter how you slice it. The good news is that they imported some fresh horses via the draft and free agency.
- Danny Amendola
- Leon Washington
- Aaron Dobson
- Josh Boyce
- Zach Sudfeld
- Tim Tebow
- Kenbrell Thomkins
- Michael Jenkins
While some of those names may not be there come Week 1, the answers to most of our fantasy questions reside in this group. I consider Washington to be a very under-discussed player. His versatility is exactly what Bill Belichick likes in his players and Washington is an incredibly smart back that can be slotted or lined up out wide when needed. If you don’t think Billy B remembers this from Leon’s days as a Jet, then you are deluded. This is the lay of the land up at Foxboro. If you’ve been reading Rotobahn, then you know we like Dobson a ton and have high hopes for Boyce’s long term as well. We’re high on Amendola too, but have serious doubts about his durability.
New OC Marty Mornhinweg is a solid upgrade over Tony Sparano and the change will necessitate changing to the third offensive system in as many seasons for the Jets. On the positive side, this should prove to be the best system of the three. The Jets will run the west coast offense now. New DC Dennis Thurman is a favorite of HC Rex Ryan. There will be no system change and we expect a seamless transition for the defense that loses Darrelle Revis but gains a few first round talents in CB Dee Milliner and DT/DE Sheldon Richardson. The Jets also added a high-profile rookie QB in round two by selecting West Virginia’s Geno Smith. Sadly, for Geno, the Jets were not able to land his college teammate Tavon Austin to go with him. That may have been the plan going in, but division rival Buffalo swapped picks with St. Louis and that was that for the Jets and their dreams of Smith-to-Austin.
The Jets lost a ton of football players from their 2012 squad and not all of the losses were addition by subtraction. TE Dustin Keller will be missed and we like his fantasy upside in Miami as I’ll mention again soon. RB Shonn Greene took his game to Tennessee and he’s actually an underrated player though definitely a replaceable one. The Jets replaced his talent and then some by bringing in Chris Ivory, but will Ivory be as durable as Greene? That is a big question and Ivory’s injury history is bleak. He was nursing a hammy on the first day of training camp. Not a big problem but it’s less than ideal.
So what else have the Jets brought in? Not much. WR Braylon Edwards is back and he’ll have a substantive role if he can stay healthy. Raiders tailback Mike Goodson was brought in on a bit of a pricey deal that has already blown up on the team with Goodson’s recent embarrassing arrest. Goodson has yet to report for camp, but may end up on the final roster. The other additions worth mentioning are vet TE Kellen Winslow and three undrafted rookie receivers.
- Zach Rogers, Tennessee
- Ryan Spadola, Lehigh
- Marcus Davis, Virginia Tech
After watching all three on film, Rogers is the most intriguing for 2013, but Davis has the highest ceiling long term.
The Fish had a big offseason, but the general consensus is that they overpaid a bit. They certainly did with newly signed Mike Wallace, but they certainly didn’t with TE Dustin Keller (a Rotoban fantasy sleeper.) Brandon Gibson got more dollars than he would have gotten any place else. They definitely made an odd move there. They chose not to pay Reggie Bush, who left for Detroit and left the backfield to Lamar Miller, whom we like plenty as a RB2 in 2013. Davone Bess is gone to Cleveland via trade, but the biggest loss was definitely left tackle Jake Long, who was signed away by the Rams.
The rookie class has some appeal though they spent no premium picks on offense.
- TE Dion Sims (4th)
- RB Mike Gillislee (5th)
- WR Jasper Collins (UDFA)
We like all three players and, oddly enough, the UDFA may have the best chance at fantasy value as a rookie. Collins hails from Mount Union, the source of recent receiving talent in the form of Pierre Garcon and Cecil Shorts. They know how to coach the position at Mount Union, obviously. So, the Fish moved a lot of pieces around in an effort to make life easier for 2nd year QB Ryan Tannehill. We think they did, though they may have spent a bit heavy.
Buffalo hired ex-Syracuse HC Doug Marrone ending the Chan Gailey Era after a disappointing 3-year run. His OC will be Nathaniel Hackett, son of Paul Hackett. Hackett worked with Marrone at Syracuse and with Jon Gruden at Tampa Bay. The DC will be Mike Pettine, formerly DC of the Jets. It will be interesting to see Pettine step out from behind Rex Ryan’s shadow. We expect this to be an attacking defense. The Bills fantasy value could rise some if they add some personnel and get stud safety Jairus Byrd in camp. He’s currently holding out.
The Bills made wholesale changes to the offense. Gone is starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. In his place, the Bills have Kevin Kolb and two rookies. First rounder E.J. Manuel and UDFA Jeff Tuel. We’re big fans of both players, but this is obviously Manuel's gig. We're high on Manuel for fantasy purposes, but he could take some time to mature like most young quarterbacks. The former Seminole has the talent to unlock all the talent the Bills have amassed the last few years. This team is way long on speed at every position. At some point, this offense could be really good.
The backfield stays the same -- C.J Spiller and Fred Jackson. There will be some role reversal, with Spiller becoming the feature back, but they are the two main players.
The receiving corps got a major bump with three serious rookie talents.
- Robert Woods, USC (round two)
- Marquise Goodwin, Texas (round three)
- Da’Rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech (UDFA)
All three have the starter’s ability and all three have the talent to be major fantasy options. This will likely be a developmental year for this trio, but down the line, this group could look very, very good. They imported speed at tight end too with rookie Chris Gragg out of Arkansas. Gragg has a lot of upside as a fantasy tight end and is a player to watch despite his late round draft status.
- Post Draft Rookie RB Rankings
- 2017 Pre-Draft TE Rankings
- 2017 Pre-Draft QB Rankings
- 2017 Pre-Draft RB Rankings
- 2017 Pre-Draft WR Rankings
- 2017 Pre Combine Rankings
- Postseason Cheatsheets
- Tight End Rankings Week 17
- Wide Receiver Rankings Week 17
- Running Back Rankings Week 17